The Origins of the Imperium
By the mid-41st Millennium the Imperium controls most of what the 2nd Millennium once called the Milky Way Galaxy. It is the dominant power in the galaxy; though aliens (or ‘xenos’) exist in great numbers and some humans live outside of the Imperium’s control, the humans that live under Imperial rule outnumber all other populations combined by incalculable numbers.
It did not start in that position.
Between the 2nd and 25th Millenia (M.2-M.25 in Imperial parlance) humanity left its homeworld of Terra, then called Earth, and set out amongst the stars. In these ‘Golden Ages’ governments rose and fell and powerful technology was created, far beyond that which survives into the modern day. Wars were fought using artifical intelligences and armies of androids, robots or other synthetic lifeforms as well as weapons that could kill entire worlds. The Imperium calls these latter years the Dark Age of Technology, terms its most powerful creations Abominable Intelligences and Men of Iron, and ruthlessly suppresses knowledge of the high technology which brought them about.
The reason for this is simply that in M.25, human civilization collapsed. Imperial records remain unclear as to why this happened, but the accepted historical narrative is that the use of soulless technology was to blame. This period of darkness is known as the Age of Strife, or Old Night – it is a time of legends, chaos and collapse on Terra; a united planet regressed to warring post-apocalyptic techno-barbarians. Left adrift, the vast majority of human colonies foundered and failed or adopted extreme and dangerous practices as they fought for survival.
At the dawn of the 29th Millenium, a superhuman figure arose on Terra and brought an end to the wars there. Coming to be known simply as the Emperor of Humanity, He united the planet under His control, and set out to conquer or reconquer the rest of the Galaxy. His first act was to create genetically engineered posthuman warriors, whom He called the Legiones Astartes, know to some as the ‘Space Marines’. In M.30, accompanied by the Astartes Legions and nine of his children – collectively called the Primarchs – he set out on his Great Crusade, unifying humanity under His rule.
In truth, nobody is sure what happened to squander all this progress. In late-M.30/early-M.31 the Emperor’s Crusade was plunged into chaos by the Nine Demons, led by the Arch-Foe Horus, leading to a period known as ‘the Heresy”, culminating in the Battle of Terra where Horus sought to conquer humanity’s homeworld and dethrone the Emperor. On that black day the Emperor was grievously wounded, and though the Imperium won, it was the end of the Golden Age. Over the ten thousand years that followed, the Imperium has slowly rotted, while its leaders desperately try to hold it together.
Daily Life in the Imperium
These pages provide additional information about day-to-day life within the Prosperitas Sector and the Imperium as a whole, from history and culture, to government, and to classes of citizen.
- Timeline of Historical Events
- The Imperial Government
- Law and Order
- Welfare and Healthcare
- Relationships, Gender and Sexuality
- Class and Status
- Culture and Art
- Sports, Games and Leisure Activities
- Illegal Activities and Crime